Planks succeed where many other ab exercises fail: They train your entire core, from rectus abdominus (the ab muscles you likely think of first) to obliques to lower back and even glutes as a unit. That can help you prevent—or sometimes, identify—imbalances among these muscles, which can in turn help you prevent pain and injury.
But the basic plank can seem too easy for some guys. If you can hold it for minutes on end, you'll get bored. So use that time to plank better.
This routine starts in the plank position, and forces you to train all the muscles that hold you in balance during a plank. By adding small movements, it challenges your core even more, forcing it to compensate and adjust to changing balance requirements.
Get in a plank position, and work to keep your core steady throughout each of the moves here. Transition between the first three moves without getting out of the plank until the 10-second rest period before the final exercise.
Directions: Perform the exercises in order listed below.
1a. Plank with plate push-pulls, 10 reps per arm
1b. Plank with leg raise, 10 reps per leg
1c. Plank, 1 minute.
Rest 10 seconds.
2a. Iron-cross plank, 20 seconds
Rest 90 seconds. That's one set. Shoot for 3 total sets.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health